Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mini Reviews #14

Today's Mini Reviews post is part of my YA Halloween Fear Factor special in October and the beginning of November. Out of all the books that had yet to be reviewed I chose TEN by Gretchen McNeil, DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas and LITTLE WHITE LIES by Katie Dale to represent the Halloween reads in form of a Mini Reviews post, because all three have something dark about them, in a horrific and/or thrilling way. Murder, betrayal, deception, now choose your brand of thrill ride.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten teenagers are invited to White Rock House, stately mannor on a private island. Meg and her best friend Minnie just wanted to have a fun weekend and enjoy the party, but someone on the island has different plans for them. When they find a DVD with a vengeful message, people start disappearing and getting killed. Of course the killer is after the two girls as well.
TEN is a mix of all the teen slasher movies that you've watched, turned into a book. The setting for TEN is very glum and isolated, a tiny island with only two mansions and a storm brewing. These factors are expected to make our characters' quest for survival harder and even though they often say they shouldn't separate they do exactly that. They were just as infuriating as teens in horror movies. Admittedly both setting and characters are a bit clich├ęd and the plot felt too generic. It could've been more extensive in explanations and allowed some more time to work on a stressed-out reader instead of rattling through the murders in a row, offing people like ticking off a check list. TEN comes along with a story of friendship, a small love story for Meg and one of the boys on the island and its grand killing spree. The story of our teens is supplemented with diary entries of an unknown person, whose past and entries are the key to finding out who's behind the murders.

3,5/5 ***/* TEN -  A mainstream YA horror slasher story, with creepy occurrences and gruesome murders according to schedule.

I read TEN during my summer vacation, in a lonely cottage on the Danish coast, while rainy and windy weather broke through the quiet of the night. So you can imagine a portion of the story's intended tension and creep-factor were definitly delivered to this reader.

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: September 18th 2012
Length: 296 pages
Keywords: YA, horror, thriller, romance, island
Source: Bought
Author's Homepage

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Murder in paradise. That's what Anna and her friends' vacation on Aruba ends with. The group of teens was only set out for a fun time and now Anna's best friend is dead and Anna herself is in jail, treated as the island's police's prime suspect.
The entire novel was strategically well-structured, scenes of Anna's trial alternating with scenes from the past and the previous nights on Aruba, doing some explaining and offering insight on how the characters play together, how they met each other and what ultimately led to the murder. Anna and Tate have a sweet romantic love story and Elise is the best friend Anna had been needing for so long.
While some short scenes of Anna's present days in prison, in dialogue with her lawyer or in the court room sometimes lack tension, sequences of Anna and Tate's as Anna and Elise's past can balance them out with their mixture of tropical romantic nights, parties, sex, drugs and deadly games.
Anna is a character one immediately feels sorry for, considering her current situation, caught in a foreign prison, without support, her friends or her family. While I felt strong sympathy for her, I even suspected her to be involved in Elise's murder as the prosecution is throwing evidence into the game that looks real bad for her.

3,5/5 ***/* DANGEROUS GIRLS – A paradisic concoction of sweet romantic and all the same murderous feelings!

 While DANGEROUS GIRLS offered a tropical dream of a murder case and I just flew through the story, the ending to the book left me disappointed in its vagueness.We are left with too flimsy a solution for the entire story that at first sight appeared to be complex in background, and with that many friends being possible suspects. Out of all the possible ways to end the story, the one Abigail Haas picked was also the reason for a perfectly engaging story to leave me unsatisfied in the end. So in the end I wished Abigail Haas would have presented us with much more details and actions on actual crimes than the ways of law.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publishing Date: August 1st 2013
Length: 320 pages
Keywords: YA, thriller, friendship, murder, jail, trial, romance, Aruba
Source: Bought
Author's Homepage

Little White Lies by Katie Dale

Lou's freshly attending university. It's a new start for her. She's making new friends in only a matter of hours and she meets the attractive and secretive Christian who lives in town, too. They seem to run into each other with a conspicuous frequency. Their attraction is mutual and almost palpable, their relationship though built on a construction of lies and secrets.
Katie Dale is a genius to even let her main character keep secrets from us. Brilliant idea! You don't know who to believe and trust. I never knew who was lying and even if Lou was to be trusted. LITTLE WHITE LIES keeps you constantly guessing and reforming your opinion about its characters. Their secrets are unravelled slowly and put into context in a well-paced manner. 
Christian and Lou's relationship isn't built on the most solid foundation: lies, or at least withheld information, so there was to be expected more than one conflict to disturb their peace. Their romance is continuously evolving, changing, turning steamier, darker, more reluctant, trusting and so it is beautifully fitting into the overall arc of suspense and the various secrets that have yet to be unveiled.

4,5/5 ****/* LITTLE WHITE LIES – An artfully constructed, suspenseful thriller with high recognition factor by one of my favourite British YA authors!

I loved Katie Dale's debut novel SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE so much. Her second book is headed in a much darker direction, a Brit thriller par excellence. Wild chases and the hunt for clues make her second novel so absolutely gripping. She shows the effect and dynamics of public news, an angry mob and a helpless individual caught in a web of lies, false assumptions and lack of chance to explain himself. I'm so excited to hear what will be Katie's next book.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publishing Date: August 1st 2013
Length: 384 pages
Keywords: YA, thriller, friendship, romance, UK
Source: Bought
Author's Homepage

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